LAST UPDATED: November 21, 2019
Best Tactical Flashlights: Bright Lights for Home and Protection
Shine a light in the darkness with these sturdy and bright tactical flashlights
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON November 21, 2019
A flashlight is by far one of the most useful tools you can have. Yes, you can use your smartphone, but it is not as versatile as a tactical flashlight. Tactical flashlights are compact, lightweight, and extremely bright. You can even use them to defend yourself by blinding a would-be assailant. Below are the best tactical flashlights available.
A sturdy and highly shock-resistant tac light with a bright LED light and long-lasting life of 50,000 hours and 750 lumens.
The flashlight is equipped with three different light modes: high, low, and strobe. It’s waterproof and includes a nylon holster.
Enabling the different modes can be a hassle, and the finish can rub off if scraped or scuffed.
Hausbell provides two tactical flashlights for the price of one. Each flashlight has a weather-resistant design, three adjustable light modes, and can illuminate a distance of up to 650 feet.
It’s compact enough to fit in your pocket. Water- and shock-resistant. Fully adjustable focus. Five times sturdier than most handheld flashlights. Rugged, non-slip construction.
Batteries not included. Non-rechargeable flashlight. Has only one button for controlling the light modes.
An easy-to-carry, powerful, and compact LED tactical flashlight with a military-grade aluminum anti-slip grip weighing just more than five ounces with 1,000 lumens.
The light is able to focus up to 1,000 feet away, and it comes with five adjustable modes: high, medium, low, strobe, and wide-to-narrow beam. It is tough enough to take a 10-foot drop and be submerged in water.
Switching to different modes is a process. You have to press the button a few times. And it may not actually be 1,000 lumens.
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Benefits of Tactical Flashlights
- Emergencies. The electricity at your home or workplace can go off unexpectedly. A flashlight will help you see your way in the dark. Flashlights also come in handy during floods or fires as a signaling device.
- Self-defense. The majority of tactical flashlights are designed to help during combat situations. They provide bright light that can blind your assailant temporarily. They are also sturdy and hard to provide strong impacts on your attacker’s face.
- Find items in the dark. Probably the most basic reason for owning a flashlight is to provide light in dark areas. They're helpful when you're looking for your car at night or searching for fallen items in hidden areas.
Types of Tactical Flashlight
As the name suggests, headlamps are tactical flashlights that are worn on the head, allowing the user’s hands to be free to do other activities. Headlamps are best suited for camping and hiking, since the user can use their hands to hold onto steep slopes or put together a camping site. They are also comparably easier to use in restrooms than handheld lights for obvious reasons. However, you should avoid headlamps if you need a light for self-defense purposes.
These flashlights are what many people think of when they talk about flashlights. Handheld flashlights are small, compact, and portable. Shooters and hunters who need clear illumination of their targets commonly use them. Apart from providing strong, blinding illumination, they can also be used as weapons.
Weapon flashlights are designed to be mounted to a pistol, long gun, or any other weapons commonly used by law enforcement officers. They help users easily identify their targets, thanks to their strong illumination. Weapon flashlights can be mounted either on weaver rails or on Picatinny rails. When placed in the correct position, weapon flashlights form an important part of combat.
Fenix is an American company based in Littleton, Colo. The company manufactures unique flashlights with close attention to quality assurance. Unlike most companies, Fenix oversees the production of every part and performance of its flashlights. The company uses advanced technology and state-of-the-art materials to manufacture flashlights that are super bright, long-lasting, and weatherproof. The Fenix PD35 V2.0 1000 Lumen Tactical Flashlight and Fenix TK26R LED Flashlight are some of the top products from this company.
Gearlight is another top flashlight company based in Southern California, with team members across various U.S. states and other countries. The company provides dependable, affordable, and high-quality tactical flashlights with utmost innovation. Apart from tactical flashlights, Gearlight also manufactures headlamps, camping lanterns, safety lights, and more. Some of the best products you can source from Gearlight include the Gearlight S1000 LED Tactical Flashlight, and Gearlight S2000 LED Tactical Flashlight.
If you are searching for tactical flashlights focused on advanced weaponry, products from Streamlight should be at the top of your list. The company is based in the United States and has been in operation since 1973. They are known for manufacturing durable, reliable, and high-quality tactical flashlights. Some of its best products including the Streamlight 88040 ProTac Professional Tactical Flashlight and Streamlight 88054 ProTac HL USB 1000 Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight.
J5 is another top tactical flashlight manufacturer that is based in Utah. The company has established affiliations with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, which points to its level of quality. It manufactures various tactical flashlights with a high-end finish. It also commits to exceptional innovations. Some of the company’s best products include the J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight.
Best Tactical Flashlight Pricing
- Under $40: They are average quality flashlights. However, most have cheap disposable AAA batteries, while others come with a lithium-ion battery and a USB charger. Flashlights available in this price range are not so durable but they are effective and some boast features such as impact resistivity and weatherproof capabilities. They are functional and considerably affordable at this price range.
- $40 and up: These are tactical flashlights from big manufacturers. They are durable, with enhanced brightness and long-lasting batteries. They are often shockproof, impact-resistant, and waterproof. They are mostly made of quality materials such as aluminum alloys and steel. These lights are suitable for weapon mounting and self-defense and have high light outputs.
There are several factors to look into when evaluating the light output of your tactical flashlight. You should consider the light intensity and beam patterns. The amount of light output from a flashlight is measured in lumens. That said, you should find a flashlight with the highest lumen count, depending on your intended use. If you want a flashlight for basic home use, this might not be your primary consideration. However, if you are looking for a weapon flashlight, ensure that you choose a flashlight with an above-average light output.
The run time of any tactical flashlight is self-explanatory. Rechargeable flashlights with long run times are preferred over those with short run times. Note that that source of a flashlight’s power is the primary determining power of the run time. Lithium-ion battery flashlights, for instance, will last longer than AA or AAA disposable alkaline batteries. Also, the power consumption of the flashlight determines the brightness levels and run time. Therefore, the brighter the flashlight, the shorter the run time.
The best tactical flashlight should provide sufficient illumination to view your surroundings at night or in the dark. To achieve this, flashlights work in the same way as the moon. The beam distance describes the distance, in meters, at which the intensity of the flashlight’s beam reaches 0.25 lux. This is the estimated amount of light given off by a full moon during a clear night.
Peak Beam Intensity
Peak beam intensity is measured in candela, which describes the brightest point of the light beam. As we previously mentioned, the lumen measures the amount of light coming out of the flashlight. On the other hand, candela measures the brightest point of the beam. The best light has the highest candela.
If you are planning to take your flashlight hiking and camping, expect some accidental falls. Avoid flashlights that will tear apart after one fall. Impact resistance is the distance or height from which the flashlight can be dropped into concrete without being damaged. The flashlight should also not break or crack if dropped from this distance. That’s why a flashlight with an aluminum body is the best.
There are three levels of water resistance in tactical flashlights. They include:
- IPX4. Flashlights with this rating can perform under splashing water.
- IPX7. Flashlights rated under this level can perform under 1 meter deep water for 30 minutes.
- IPX8. Flashlights with IPX8 rating can perform when submerged deeper than 1 meter for more than four hours.
Ensure you buy a flashlight that is water-resistant, especially if you are planning to use it on outdoor activities.
- Size: The size of the flashlight significantly depends on its intended use. There are five different size classifications of tactical flashlights. They include micro flashlights, mini flashlights, small flashlights, medium flashlights, and large flashlights.
- Power Source: Tactical flashlights can source their power from disposable alkaline batteries, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable cells, or integrated rechargeable packs.
Best Tactical Flashlight Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Streamlight Protac Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight is a strong and shock-resistant flashlight with various bells and whistles. Apart from the long run time of up to 50,000 hours, it gives off 750 lumens with three light tactical modes for varying brightness levels. The C4 LED technology provides extreme brightness, while the LED solid power regulation provides maximum lighting throughout. It is also waterproof and comes with a nylon holster.
The advantage of this bright flashlight is that it is equipped with three different light modes: high, low, and strobe for various lighting requirements. It is also waterproof, durable, and very reliable. Its construction features anodized aluminum alloy with a knurled body for an enhanced grip and long-lasting performance. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty as proof of durability.
The flashlight is equipped with three different light modes: high, low, and strobe. It’s waterproof and includes a nylon holster. Its construction features anodized aluminum alloy with a knurled body for an enhanced grip and durability.
However, those who have used this unit report it is difficult to switch between the various modes. The battery life is also quite questionable and requires users to have a backup. The finish also wears off quickly.
If you are looking for a small, pocket-sized flashlight for the kids or for your camping and backpacking adventures, then this flashlight could be it for you. It’s small enough to fit in your palm, and has a pocket clip so that it can be within reach whenever you need it. The flashlight has a high-lumen count and can illuminate up to 650 feet. It also features three light modes: bright, dim, and SOS. You can change the light mode by gently pressing the rear-mounted button.
The unit features a patented luminous ring that makes the flashlight visible so that in case of a power failure, you can easily locate it in the dark. A lotus-shaped head design protects the lens from breaking in case of accidental drops. The housing is made from durable and weather-resistant aluminum housing that’s shock- and water-resistant.
The unit runs on one 15400 battery or one AA battery, which is not included in the package. Also, the batteries aren’t rechargeable. Another drawback is that since it has only one button, you have to make repeated clicks to get to the mode you prefer—the flashlight goes off after each mode so you need about six clicks to get back to the first mode.
The Gearlight LED Tactical Flashlight is our honorable flashlight for many reasons. The tactical flashlight is compact and portable and features a light output of 1000 lumens. Its design features a military-grade snit-slip that eliminates risks of falling. Also, if it slides accidentally, it can handle the impact, thanks to its 10-foot impact resistivity. What’s more is that it features five adjustable lighting modes, including the low, strobe, medium, high, and wide to narrow settings.
The best thing about this high-performance unit is the ultra-bright and long-lasting design. You will also like the compact, low battery consumption, one-handed operation, and adjustable focus with five modes. You can also use it during rainy days due to its waterproof design and indestructible construction.
A major drawback of the Gearlight LED Tactical Flashlight is that switching between modes is a challenge. The button is not smooth enough since it requires several clicking to access different light settings. Also, it may not be bright enough for some users.
This rechargeable LED flashlight sports CREE LED bulbs rated at 900 lumens that produce a brilliant light. The bulbs have a 50,000-hour lifespan and can illuminate up to 660 feet. You can focus the beam on one spot or zoom to a wider beam with the help of the slider at the side of the flashlight. It also features five adjustable light settings: high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS. On medium mode, it can run for about six hours on a single charge. A rear-mounted switch will help you switch through the modes.
As for the design, the flashlight is made from shock-resistant aluminum that’s designed to tolerate rough handling. It’s also IPX5-rated for water resistance and, therefore, will hold up to a heavy downpour. It’s then topped off with a non-slip finish and a wrist strap so that you can get a steady grip. The unit runs on a rechargeable 3,350mAh battery, and you also get a micro USB cable with the package for charging the device.
Unfortunately, the flashlight can overheat when it is left on for too long. That’s unless you use it on the lowest setting. Also, the tail switch may feel too stiff for some users, and might skip a few modes.
If you would like to gift someone with a tactical flashlight, we recommend the PeakPlus flashlight, which comes in a well-packaged kit. The kit includes a tactical flashlight, a 2,200mAh rechargeable AAA battery, a battery holder, a charger, and a user manual, all packaged in a chic green case with a plush interior.
Moving on to the details of the flashlight, it features a durable aluminum alloy body that's abrasion- and shock-resistant. It uses LED bulbs with five light modes: full, medium, low, strobe, and SOS. It also features five zoom functions where you can get a sharp spotlight to a larger beam of light that can illuminate up to 600 feet. PeakPlus provides a one-year warranty on the flashlight for defects in material and workmanship.
The main drawback of this flashlight is that the wrist strap is made of cheap nylon, which frays easily. Also, it might have a few quality issues, which may include a failed zoom button, charging issues, or skipping a few light modes.
For campers who would like a fast-charging flashlight with a longer runtime, we recommend the Fenix PD36R. It runs on a rechargeable 5,000mAh battery that only takes four hours to acquire a full charge and can run for more than 24 hours on low mode. It comes with five light modes, and the runtime and brightness level depends on the mode you select. The light settings include: turbo (1,600 lumens for about three hours), high (800 lumens for five hours, 49 minutes), medium (350 lumens for eight hours, 24 minutes), low (150 lumens for 26 hours), and eco (30 lumens for 115 hours).
The unit has a military-grade construction that can survive a 3.3-foot drop, and is IPX8-rated for water resistance, meaning that it can be submerged to about six feet without allowing water to penetrate the internal components. Also, adding to its list of unique features is the battery level indicator that lets you know when to charge it. Additionally, the manufacturer provides a Type C EdisonBright charging cable with its carry case.
Unfortunately, with time, it might take longer than the four hours to charge, and at times, the green light indicating the battery is full might not come on. Also, it gets hot around the lens, especially when used on the highest setting.
Smith & Wesson is known for making some of the best flashlights for survival. The M&P Delta Force is no exception, and you will find it quite handy when you are walking at night or in any dark environment. It’s rated at 130 lumens, and uses CREE LED bulbs featuring four light modes: high, low, strobe, and momentary on. It can go for almost 10 hours on the lowest mode and four hours on the brightest setting. It has a twist cap that you can use to select these functions.
The housing features anodized aerospace aluminum, which is water- and impact-resistant by up to 3.3 feet. It’s a compact design that can be mounted on a tactical belt. Additionally, the head is crenulated to protect the lens from impact damage. What’s special about this flashlight is that it has a memory retention function that “remembers” the last mode you used so that you don’t have to flick through the modes. Also, it’s backed with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Unfortunately, the twist cap doesn’t click in place, so there’s nothing that will keep you from skipping to the next mode. Also, on the same point, the flashlight might switch modes while it’s in your pocket.
Finishing off our list is a powerful, 4,400-lumen tactical flashlight from Nitecore, which is known for making some of the best EDC flashlights featuring innovative technology. This option is specially designed for law enforcement personnel and comes with a tactical holster for holding the flashlight. The holster has an adjustable clip so that it can fit on tactical belts of different sizes. It has a secondary tail switch that gives quick access to the random strobe setting, which can make the perpetrator dizzy. Also, the head is crenulated and can be used as a glass breaker.
The unit uses four CREE LED bulbs, which run independently for a stable current and reliable brightness. They have a lifespan of 50,000 hours, can illuminate a distance of up to 230 feet, and can be adjusted to about five brightness modes. The flashlight also features a memory function and will automatically switch to the last brightness mode selected once you switch it on. It runs on a rechargeable 5,000mAh battery that uses a Type C fast-charging cable. It also comes with an EdisonBright Battery carrying case.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a zoom function, which is typical with most tactical flashlights. Also, it’s a bit on the expensive side.
- Be careful if you leave your flashlight in your pocket with other items. These items may turn the light on and off and wear down the battery while you walk.
- The casing around the tactical light can get warm if the light is left on for an extended amount of time. Be sure to turn it off when not using it, or wear gloves if you have sensitive hands. It should never get too hot, however.
- The strobe setting is used mainly to alert people of your position. If you are lost or need to signal someone else, use this mode to find your way.
Q: Are all tactical flashlights water-resistant?
A: The majority of tac lights should be water-resistant as they are designed to be used outdoors. However, this does not mean they should be submerged in water. A large amount of water can damage or ruin the batteries and the light. Using them in the rain or snow should be fine.
Q: Can I attach a tactical light to my bike?
A: You may be able to find a special mount to attach a tactical flashlight onto your bike frame. You need to keep in mind the size and weight of the light before attaching it.
Q: What is a lumen?
A: A lumen is the measurement of the amount of light emitted per second by the flashlight. The more lumens means the more powerful the light will be. The batteries may run out more quickly on flashlights with more lumens.
Q: What types of batteries do tactical flashlights use?
A: Tactical flashlights typically run off of AA, 18650 lithium, or 14500 batteries. They can also run on rechargeable batteries to save money.
For one of the most powerful LED tactical flashlights, consider the Streamlight ProTac Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight.
Or save some cash and check out the HAUSBELL Tactical Flashlights.